Meike 35mm F1.7 Review ($69 lens)

Back in late 2020, I was in the market for a new lens, but I didn’t want to drop a bunch of money. I was just looking to experiment and try something new. Then, I discovered a weird cheap lens when scrolling through Amazon: the Meike 35mm F1.7.

So, I decided to order it. A few days later, it arrived. I threw it on my Sony a6000, and I headed outside to give it a try.

Why You Can Trust Me

Chance (that’s me) has been practicing photography for 10 years and has been a paid professional for most of it. I bought my first Sony in 2018 so this website is the culmination of about 5 years of Sony experience (full site history). I got this lens three years ago and, although I primarily used it mostly in 2021, I still take it out sometimes to this day (read how I review/test gear).

Fast forward: I’ve now owned this lens for over three years and it’s really exceeded my expectations. In this review, I want to go over my long-term impressions (plus share a bunch of sample photos) so you can decide for yourself if this cheap and tiny lens is worth it. Let’s dive in!

  • Sharp images (especially stopped down)
  • Incredibly tiny and compact
  • Surprisingly well built and durable
  • Fun manual focus experience
  • Absolutely terrible flare resistance
  • No autofocus, only manual

Verdict: Although manual focus might scare off some, the Meike 35mm is an incredibly capable lens at an ultra-budget pricetag. I highly recommend it (affiliate link) if you’re looking for a fun and cheap lens (typically $70-90).

me holding the meike 35mm f1.7
Me awkwardly posing with the Meike 35mm F1.7.

Size & Weight

Before we get to deep into the review, I just want to note the size of this lens. When I eagerly ripped open the packaging, I was shocked at how tiny it was! Many photographers, myself included, enjoy having a small kit for a variety of reasons (this lens is pocketable on the a6000, by the way).

The Meike 35mm F1.7 definitely fits the bill. According to my scale, it comes in at 6.4oz (181g) and (according to my measuring tape) measures a TINY 1.23 inches (3.1cm). I always thought my Sigma primes were small, but no, this lens takes the cake for being absolutely miniscule, it’s incredible.

Build Quality

Now, despite the super cheap pricetag, build quality is actually quite good! The barrel of the Meike 35mm F1.7 is almost entirely metal, although the focusing/aperture rings have a sort of plastic-y type feel. Both the front and rear lens caps are also made entirely of metal, though they’re the slip on/off kind, so I found that they can be a little loose-fitting.

colorado mountain road in winter
Road tripping through snowy Colorado (taken with this lens in 2021!).

As you might expect from a sub-$100 lens, it does not offer any sort of weather sealing. I was a little worried about this initially, but after two years I haven’t had any problems. I haven’t taken this lens out in torrential downpours, but I have taken it out in light rain, near waterfalls, and out for some really snowy shoots.

So do I feel as if the lens is built to last? Well, generally, I find these cheap Chinese lenses to be pretty crappy in terms of quality, but thus far this lens has exceeded expectations. It still works as well as the first day I got it. Nothing is loose or broken, and both the rings still spin smoothly and (as far as I can tell) accurately.

Next up: aesthetics! Beauty is subjective of course but I think the lens looks pretty nice. Although the text on the lens is printed (not engraved), it still contrasts nicely with the sleek black metal. The distance scale adds just a little bit a premium touch to the whole look.

Ergonomically, the lens feels strong and sturdy when mounted on my a6000, despite its diminutive size. Given the low weight, I can wander around literally all day with this thing attached to the camera. No hand fatigue or cramping since the lens plus camera combination weighs so little. I love it.

Even when I’m not actively holding it, the lens barely takes up any space in my camera bag (it also, as I’ve mentioned before, fits in my pocket!).

woman looking at waterfall
My girlfriend admiring a waterfall.

Image Quality

Next up, let’s talk about image quality. Though there were a few optical flaws, which I’ll get into in just a moment, this lens is quite sharp for how cheap it is. Shooting wide open at F1.7, we see very sharp centers but there’s noticeable fall-off near the corners of the frame.

Stopping down quickly sharpens everything up, and I found that the lens seems to peak around F4, showing even sharpness pretty much from edge-to-edge. Really impressive performance given the low price tag.

woman looking at mountains
A pic of my girlfriend in front of the Teton Range.

Next up, let’s cover any optical flaws. The first and most major issue this lens suffers from is poor flare resistance.

When shooting in bright sunlight, I frequently noticed a sort of purple-ish cast in certain parts of my images. Making a sort of “make-shift lens hood” (aka blocking the sun) with my hands helped a lot, but there were some situations where I’d have to pixel peep to edit out these purple ghosts.

I won’t say this is a dealbreaker, but it’s seriously some pretty heavy flaring. I’m unsure if maybe I just got a bad copy of the lens, however, because I’ve spoken to other users that haven’t mentioned the same issue.

The next flaw is a moderate vignette when shooting wide open. Stopping down remedies it, of course, and I generally found it to be a non-issue. Modern post-processing is so powerful that even a moderately dark vignette is easily correctable with minimal quality loss.

Finally, I found that the lens suffered from very little chromatic aberration or distortion. Even in extreme circumstances (branches against a sunny sky, for example), chromatic aberrations were well controlled and barely noticeable.

mountain peaks in grand teton
A nice mountain pic I took in Grand Teton National Park.

Despite the wild flaring, I’ve been incredibly impressed with the pictures that have come out of the Meike 35mm F1.7. My pictures are razor sharp (seriously, just look at the sample images in this article), and I’ve found the flaring pretty easy to work around except for in certain circumstances.

Plus, like I mentioned, I haven’t heard of other people having the same flare problems with the lens, so maybe I just got unlucky with some poor quality control. Oh, and by the way, the bokeh looks pretty damn good (and it can even produce decent starburst effects at tight apertures!).

Manual Focus

Next up, let’s focus on focusing! As I stated prior, this lens is completely manual focus, meaning there’s no AF and everything must be done by hand.

As an avid user of both modern and vintage manual lenses, it felt very familiar and easy to use. Definitely one of the better manual focus lenses I’ve used. The focusing ring is incredibly well dampened and (from what I can tell) very precise. It’s tight enough to where I’ve never been worried about bumping it out of place.

Oh, and this is a good time to mention: if you’re new to manual focus (and this is a GREAT lens to learn on), then consider checking out my full guide to manual focus on the a6000. It’s a wealth of knowledge.

woman sitting by glass window
Manual focus has been an absolute joy.

Finally, it should be noted that since this lens has no electronic connection to the camera, the aperture is controlled manually with a ring on the lens. This ring is fairly stiff, which means I don’t tend to bump it out of place on accident, though it does happen on rare occasions.

It is clickless, which means the ring doesn’t “click” into place as you move through the various apertures. I prefer clicked myself, but many photographers like clickless rings. I’ll never not love physical aperture rings.

black and white mountains
Some rugged landscape in Bridger National Forest.

Final Thoughts

Before I round out my reviews, I generally like to give alternatives. With that being said, I do think the Meike 35mm F1.7 is in a league of its own.

I would suggest considering the Sigma 30mm F1.4 as a direct comparison. It’s more expensive, but you get modern conveniences such as autofocus and an electronic connection the camera. I’ve owned it for five years and it’s been lovely. Can’t beat the cost of the Meike, though.

grand teton mountain range
A shot of the Teton Range I took back in 2021.

In any case, I’ve used the Meike 35mm F1.7 for literally everything: portraits, travel, landscape panorama stitches, events. It’s excelled and exceeded my expectations every step of the way. For a lens that is so cheap, you’re getting fantastic image quality, an enjoyable manual focus experience, and a surprisingly solid build.

snowy mountain road in colorado
Winter wonderland somewhere in CO or UT.

Plus, if you’re a fan of small kits, this lens is a must have because it is, once again, so incredibly small! Anyways, now that I’ve rambled on about this fantastic lens, I’ll drop a purchase link below so you can check it out yourself. Thanks for reading!

Buy from Amazon <– affiliate link, which means I get a (very) small commission if you purchase something at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support. <3

Meike 35mm F1.7 Sample Photos

woman looking at mountains from car
Mount Moran (Grand Teton National Park) in April 2021.
An abandoned warehouse
A panorama stitch of an abandoned warehouse near SLC.
woman sitting by crystal blue lake
Leigh Lake (I believe) in Grand Teton National Park.

Thanks for looking through all my sample photos, you’re awesome! If you’d like to buy the lens, please consider using my link as I get a small commission. Thank you!

Some of the links on my website are affiliate links. That means I get a (very) small commission if you buy something through one of the links. Thank you!